Sarah Osborne’s Tips for first-time bread bakers

Family is whatever you make it—genetic, borrowed, or adopted—and nothing keeps a family strong like breaking bread together.

Add to that the joy of preparing the bread, and you have the perfect recipe for family togetherness.

While I love experimenting with new recipes, when I have the time it’s bread baking that warms my heart.

The three secret ingredients for making a delicious loaf of bread are time, perseverance, and love. Aren’t those the ingredients for any good and lasting relationship?

I am no James Beard when it comes to making bread, but as Julia Child said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

Let’s get started. No bread machines allowed. The real zen of bread making is the time and hands-on work involved. I’ve solved a lot of mystery conundrums as my floured hands kneaded dough. It really is the process that matters, even when the product comes out as flat as a pancake.

One way to avoid the inedible loaf is always, always, always to proof the yeast. Here’s what I do.

  • I make sure my kitchen is cozy—no drafts.
  • I warm up a small bowl with hot water and then pour it out.
  • I turn on my oven just to get it started heating up and then turn it off.
  • I put one or two packages of yeast in my bowl (according to the recipe) with a quarter cup of hot water (from the recipe) and a little sugar (from the recipe), stir and plop the whole thing in the warm oven (turned off but still cozy) for ten minutes.

This is how your bowl should look (granted it doesn’t have to rise to the top of the bowl, but it does have to expand).

If it doesn’t expand, start over or you’ll spend a day of frustration waiting for dough to rise, and it isn’t going to happen. Believe me I’ve been there, done that.

The next most important aspect of bread baking is learning to knead. It isn’t complicated. See any of the many good videos on youtube to get the hang of it. Then take your time.

I often use a recipe I’ve had for years called Farm Style Whole Wheat Molasses Bread. Choose any recipe you like but start with white bread or whole wheat mixed with white flour—nothing too heavy or your first-time bread won’t do well.

If you want to use my recipe go to my website at and look at Weekly Recipes.

Choose a day when you don’t have much else to do and can relish the experience. Do it with a friend, a relative, a child, and it will be a wonderful adventure. Maybe you’ll even end up with a tasty loaf of bread.

Pediatrician Mabel Aphrodite Brown adores kids. So when a childhood friend asks Ditie to babysit her kids for a few days, she jumps at the chance. She never imagined she’d be solving a murder too . . .

Despite growing up together, Ditie hasn’t seen Ellie Winston in two years, and she didn’t even know Ellie was living in Atlanta. But when Ellie asks her to take care of Lucie and Jason for the weekend, she thinks nothing of it. They’ll bake cookies together, play with her dog—it’ll be fun! Until the police call with terrible news . . .

Ellie may not have been the best friend, but who would want her dead? Could it have something to do with the vague get-rich-quick scheme she mentioned to Ditie? Or the men in a black truck following her and breaking into her home? Not sure who to trust other than her best friend, Lurleen, Ditie’s buried maternal instincts kick in to protect the kids and find their mother’s killer—before they’re orphaned again . . .

Includes Family-Friendly Recipes!